TPAC
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
 

Bulletins

Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 115, August 30, 2019.



August 30 2019

1. Responding to gun violence in Toronto
2. Little progress on de-escalation
3. Margaret Beare
4. Provincial policing legislation
5. Chief Saunders contract extended for a year



Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 115, August 30, 2019.
This Bulletin is published by the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition (TPAC), a group of individuals and organizations in Toronto interested in police policies and procedures, and in making police more accountable to the community they are committed to serving. Our website is http://www.tpac.ca

In this Bulletin:
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1. Responding to gun violence in Toronto
2. Little progress on de-escalation
3. Margaret Beare
4. Provincial policing legislation
5. Chief Saunders contract extended for a year
6. Subscribe to the Bulletin
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1. Responding to gun violence in Toronto
The number of shootings in Toronto thus far in 2019 is far above the number last year. Politicians have made two responses.

City Council has urged the federal government to ban handguns, but the government has been reluctant to act. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he will announce a new program about gun control during the federal election campaign which begins in a week or two.

The second response has come from the provincial government of Premier Doug Ford. He has promised more money for the Toronto police. Some of the money - $4.5 million  is to put 200 more officers on the ground in what the police deem `high-risk areas. Another $1.5 million is for the police to buy another 30 closed circuit cameras to be installed in various public locations. Some $54 million over three years from the province and federal governments will be spent on crown attorneys to strengthen bail provisions and oversight.

Police chief Mark Saunders has said `We cant arrest our way out of these problems, yet the money is flowing to the police. Many criminal justice professionals think spending more money on the police is simply the wrong thing to do. University of Toronto sociologist Akwansi Owusu-Bempah, quoted by the Toronto Star, said `These are simply short-term approaches and in the long run these are not the solutions to these problems. He thinks the money should be spent on social program which address inequality and marginalization, although he notes that these programs take a number of years to show success.

Toronto researcher Fiona Scott agrees, and she thinks the solution is to get serious about implementing the solutions proposed in The Roots of Youth Violence Report prepared by Roy McMurtry and Alvin Curling a decade ago. See https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/08/14/toronto-police-chief-to-detail-plan-to-fight-gun-violence.html

Putting more money into police cameras to stop gun violence seems ludicrous. The chance of a shooting taking place anywhere near a police camera is remote. The provincial reaction seems to be more related to showing support for police than addressing the serious social issues  inadequate housing, low income, poor life prospects, all of which are noted in The Roots of Youth Violence, with the easy access to guns - has created a culture of gun violence among the disadvantaged. The mayor and the premier are avoiding the big issues. Sadly gun violence will continue.

2. Little progress on de-escalation.

Three years ago  in the summer of 2016  the Ombudsman released a report `A Matter of Life and Death about how police deal with the mentally ill in Ontario. Recommendation No. 2 reads: `The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should develop and implement a regulation on de-escalation, modelled on the Suspect Apprehension Pursuit Regulation, which requires officers to use communications and de-escalation techniques in all situations of conflict before considering force options, wherever tactical and safety considerations permit. This should be done as quickly as possible, and no later than 12 months after the publication of this report.

We understood from the minister at the time that the recommendations would be implemented after studies were done about the best methods of doing this training. Nothing came forward from the previous government, and the new government has bene in office for over a year. But there is still no progress, and de-escalation training has yet to be implemented.

One can only assume that the Minister of Community Safety does not see training police in de-escalation techniques as a priority.

`Inside Queens Park published a strong article in July on this issue. See http://wonderlist.ca/3rdparty/qpb/iqp/2019/07/IQP_1col_Jul24.pdf

3. Margaret Beare

We mourn the death of Margaret Beare, a member of the TPAC steering committee for the past half dozen years. Margaret was that rare kind of academic  she taught at the law school at York University  who was happy to be engaged in addressing current problems, and struggling with good advice to police authorities about choices to be made. She had an expertise in organized crime, as well as police management issues, which she often wrote about. We will miss her advice, her incisiveness and her good humour.

4. Provincial policing legislation

When the government of Premier Doug Ford assumed office a year ago, it was quick to condemn the policing legislation passed by the government of Kathleen Wynne. But then it brought in legislation virtually the same as that bill  see Bulletin No. 112, March 5, 2019.

But Mr. Ford now seems reluctant to see the legislation in force. The legislation of the Wynne government was intercepted by Mr. Ford before it could be proclaimed, and the new legislation, the Community Safety and Security Act, is yet to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor. Perhaps this is yet another example of the government flip-flopping, saying it will do one thing than doing another thing. Whats the problem??

5. Chief Saunders contract extended for a year

The Toronto Police Services Board has agreed to extend the contract with Chief Saunders for a year, until April 2021. The Board says Saunders has been instrumental in leading the organization through a precedent-setting and complex period of transformation, championing the most significant modernization efforts undertaken by the Toronto Police Service.

But little of the transformation is apparent to the outside world. Very little progress has made in replacing the two policies which now significantly eat up considerable police resources  two officers in a car after dark, and the shift schedule which sees as many officers on duty at 4 am as at 7 pm. Nothing has yet been done about strip search policy which sees Toronto police strip search 40 times the number of suspects as other large police forces in Ontario. (See Bulletin No. 113, Aril 15, 2019.) He has shown little leadership in dealing with the confusion around police mis-steps in the arrest of Bruce MacArthur, the off-duty police beating of teenager Dafonte Miller, or the response to the increase in the number of shooting in Toronto.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa Police force has just hired Peter Sloly as chief  he resigned the Toronto force when it was clear that he was too progressive for the Toronto Board to appoint him as chief. (See Bulletin No. 90, May 7, 2015.)  

6. Subscribe to the Bulletin

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this Bulletin, please send a note to info@tpac.ca with the instructions in the subject line or in the text of the message. Our e-mail list is confidential and will not be made available to others. There is no charge for the Bulletin. Our website is http://www.tpac.ca.

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